UAW union must now pay back hundreds to workers who charged union officials with rejecting requests to leave union and cut off dues

Cresco, IA (March 29, 2023) – Four employees of air filter manufacturer Donaldson have prevailed in their federal case against United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 120 union officials, whom they charged with seizing union dues illegally from their paychecks. The workers, Troy Murphy, Esther Kuhn, Darren Walter, and Kory Huber, received free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys in proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Each of the workers filed federal charges against the company and the union in September or October of 2022, maintaining that union and company officials had rejected their requests to end union membership and stop dues deductions. A Foundation-won settlement now requires union officials to return to the workers nearly $1,000 total in unlawfully taken money, and post a notice declaring that the union will no longer ignore or reject worker requests to opt out of membership or dues deductions.

The four workers charged UAW union officials and company officials with violating their rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees the right of private sector workers to refrain “from any or all of” union activities. Iowa’s Right to Work law also forbids union bosses from forcing private sector employees to pay any union dues or fees to get or keep a job. In contrast, in non-Right to Work states, union bosses have the power to compel private sector workers to pay a significant portion of union dues as a condition of employment, even under the provisions of the NLRA.

UAW Union Officials Tried to Trap Workers in Dues Deductions Despite No Legal Authority

Kuhn and Murphy sent letters to their employer and the UAW union in April 2022 and June 2022, respectively, informing both parties that they were ending their union memberships and revoking any authorization they had given to take union dues out of their paychecks. Donaldson officials told both employees that neither could exit the union until the union contract was up in October. Charges are still pending against Donaldson.

Federal labor law provides that direct dues deductions can only occur with written authorization from an employee, and even then the deductions are governed only by the specific language on the authorization form – not by the union contract. Neither Donaldson representatives nor the union produced any documents that Kuhn or Murphy had signed agreeing to union dues deductions.

As for Huber and Walter, both sent notices to union and company officials in July 2022 ending union membership and revoking their dues authorizations. Huber’s and Walter’s federal charges point out that neither man’s “checkoff” authorizing dues deductions “contain[ed] language stating [they] agreed to pay dues or fees irrespective of union membership,” meaning that dues deductions should have ceased immediately after Huber and Walter resigned membership. Nevertheless, the union continued to collect dues from their paychecks after they sent in their resignations.

Settlement Orders UAW Bosses to Return Hundreds in Illegally Seized Dues to Workers

After the four employees hit the union with federal charges, UAW officials backed down and settled the case. Now, the union must pay back each employee all dues money seized in violation of their rights dating back to when each of them resigned union membership. In addition, UAW bosses must post a notice at the Donaldson Cresco facility and at the UAW Local 120 union hall stating they “will not fail or refuse to honor your requests to resign your union membership,” “will not fail or refuse to honor your timely requests to revoke your dues checkoff authorizations,” and “will not collect dues without a signed dues checkoff authorization.”

“All across the country, union bosses believe that they are entitled to the money of the workers they thrust under the so-called ‘representation’ of the union,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This is likely the mentality that UAW union bosses had when they continued to siphon dues from Mr. Murphy, Ms. Kuhn, Mr. Walter, and Mr. Huber, even though each employee clearly exercised their rights under federal law, and Iowa’s Right to Work law, to disaffiliate from this union of which they do not approve.”

“UAW chiefs in particular are notorious for playing fast and loose with workers’ money, something apparent after a federal probe has hit at least 11 former UAW executives with jail sentences for corruption and embezzlement,” Mix added. “While Iowa’s legislators have preserved the basic right of their private sector employees to cut off funding for union hierarchies that are corrupt or aren’t serving worker interests, it’s sadly ironic that Michigan – the home of the UAW – has just repealed Right to Work protections for its employees.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.

Posted on Mar 29, 2023 in News Releases